Executive Briefing June 16, 2017

Voices for Innovation provides a weekly roundup of technology policy news:

Hill Update
Special Coverage
Article Summary
Notable Quotes
Social Media Highlights


The Hill When Can Law Enforcement Access Data Stored Abroad? Only Congress Can Tell

The Hill published an op-ed by Craig Albright, vice president of legislative strategy at BSA, previewing the House Judiciary Committee hearing on lawful access to data stored abroad. He warns that current U.S. laws governing law enforcement access to data are outdated and lack clear guidance for U.S. companies. Albright highlights that inconsistent court rulings on the subject are clear evidence that this is “an issue in desperate need of legislation.”

ZDNet House pushes bill to demand notice when Pentagon uses cyberweapons

A new bill would require the Defense Dept. to inform congressional overseers within two days of launching a cyberweapon. The measure, proposed by leading lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee, would apply to both offensive and defensive operations launched by the Pentagon to “defeat an ongoing or imminent threat,” according to the text of the six-page bill. The draft law allows two exceptions — if the cyberweapons are launched during a training exercise, or authorized under covert action.

The Hill Senators outline driverless car legislation

A bipartisan group of senators outlined a broad sketch of their highly anticipated driverless car legislation on Tuesday as Congress looks to speed up the deployment of autonomous vehicles. The package from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the panel’s ranking member, and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) could “become the first ever changes in federal law” governing self-driving cars, Thune said in a statement. Their bill will aim to prioritize safety, reduce roadblocks, remain tech neutral, strengthen cybersecurity, reinforce separate federal and state roles and better educate the public about the emerging technology, according to lawmakers.


Technically Philly Philly tech execs went to Harrisburg to lobby against Pa.’s proposed ‘Tech Tax’
Highlighting VFI Member and Microsoft Partner Lauren Schwartz who went to Harrisburg, PA with other technology executives to lobby against a proposed technology services tax in the Governor’s budget. In addition, she testified in front of the Philadelphia City Council in support of a resolution opposing the tax. The resolution passed 9-7. Thank you Lauren for representing technology leaders with your efforts!


The Hill Ivanka Trump’s apprenticeship program puts American workers first

The theme of the week for the White House is “Workforce Development.” Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have teamed up with an exceptionally effective spokesperson in the Trump Administration, Ivanka, to promote apprenticeships as a centerpiece of a developing and educated American workforce.  According to a USA Today report on June 10, 2017, Ivanka’s pitch is to call “attention to the ‘skills gap’ employers encounter — the difference between what people can do and what employers need — and at encouraging greater use of apprenticeship programs like one she recently visited in Berlin, Germany.” Ivanka Trump makes the case that companies like “IBM, Amazon and Dow Chemical” are working with schools to train our future workforce with skills that will help them get excellent jobs.   Another company that is leading the charge in providing kids with an education that will prepare them for the information economy is Microsoft. Microsoft has partnered with an organization called Code.org that is pushing our education system to stress computer coding. By helping kids to acquire the tools needed to fill up the large number of jobs that tend to be filled with foreign workers, our nation can avoid importing labor that should be trained domestically.

Wall Street Journal Rural America Is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age (subscription required)

Jeanne Wilson Johnson raises sheep and angora goats, and to sell the wool and mohair online she drives 4 miles to the parking lot of Roy’s gas station, the closest spot for decent internet access. At her 420-acre farm, Ms. Johnson pays $170 a month for a satellite internet service too slow to upload photos, much less conduct business. As in many rural communities, broadband here lags behind in both speed and available connections. Federal data shows only a fraction of Washington County’s 25,000 residents, including Ms. Johnson, have internet service fast enough to stream videos or access the cloud, activities that residents 80 miles away in St. Louis take for granted. “We don’t feel like we’re worth it,” said Ms. Johnson, 60 years old.

Reuters Supreme Court to Rule on Legality of Patent Review System

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether a federal administrative process frequently used by technology companies to ward off patent infringement lawsuits violates the constitutional rights of patent owners. The justices agreed to hear an appeal by Houston-based oilfield services company Oil States International Inc of a lower court’s ruling upholding a proceeding called inter partes review in which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can cancel patents the agency previously granted. The company asserts that because the agency’s process does not give patent owners the option of a jury trial, it violates the right to a jury trial enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Under the agency’s process, administrative law judges review a patent and decide whether the patent office made a mistake in granting it.

New York Times Google Said to Be Facing Record E.U. Fine by End of August

European antitrust officials are preparing to hit Google with a potentially record fine by the end of August over some of the Silicon Valley giant’s search services, according to two people with direct knowledge of the case. Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, is in the final stages of ruling on the case, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Any financial penalty is expected to be larger than the fine of 1.06 billion euros, now about $1.2 billion, then about $1.4 billion — at the time the highest ever — that Intel was forced to fork out for antitrust abuses in Europe in 2009. As well as the fine, European officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete.

Washington Post Facebook wants to use artificial intelligence to block terrorists online

To combat the spread of terror-related content online, Facebook announced Thursday that it will bolster its automated and human-powered efforts to flag and take down extremists posts, and will develop data-sharing systems across its family of social media and messaging apps. “Making Facebook a hostile place for terrorists is really important to us,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management. Facebook announced earlier this year that it would increase its community operations team by 3,000, increasing the number of people who review flagged posts on the social network, including instances of bullying, hate speech and terrorism. One hundred and fifty employees at Facebook count counterterrorism as their primary responsibility, the company said.

Ars Technica Trump to nominate Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel for empty slot at FCC

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel for another term on the Federal Communications Commission. Rosenworcel had to leave the commission at the end of last year when the Republican-led US Senate refused to reconfirm her for a second five-year term. The departure of Rosenworcel and former Chairman Tom Wheeler left the FCC with just three out of the typical five members, with Republicans holding a 2-1 majority. Republican senators didn’t want Rosenworcel to stay on the FCC at the time because it would have resulted in a 2-2 deadlock.

Federal News Radio HHS’ cybersecurity center offering much more than a Band-Aid for health IT cyber attacks

You have to learn to walk before you can run, but in the case of the Health and Human Services Department’s Health Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (HCCIC), it learned how to sprint right out of the gate. HHS officials recently testified before Congress that the center did exactly what it was intended to do during last month’s WannaCry ransomware attack, and further proved the point that paralyzing cyber attacks on health IT are only a click away. “In the recent WannaCry immobilization, HCCIC analysts provided early warning of the potential impact of the attack and HHS responded by putting the secertary’s operations center on alert,” said Leo Scanlon, deputy chief information security officer at HHS, during a June 8 House energy and commerce subcommittee hearing.


“In an exemplary demonstration of public-private partnership, the technology sector has worked closely with Congress to develop legislative fixes that increase customer privacy and facilitate law enforcement investigations. In short: Microsoft highlighted a problem, and all interested stakeholders are now trying to fix it. The two primary fixes are known as the International Communications Privacy Act (“ICPA”) (formerly the LEADS Act) and the Email Privacy Act.”

Viet Dinh, former U.S. assistant attorney general for legal policy

“When should U.S. law enforcement be able to access the content of a foreign citizen stored abroad? And when should foreign law enforcement agencies be allowed to access content belonging to U.S. citizens stored in the United States? Whatever is written into U.S. law will likely be replicated by foreign governments. Without clear rules, how can cloud service providers explain to their customers the circumstances under which different law enforcement agencies will get access to their data? How can law enforcement reliably pursue evidence in criminal investigations? Under current law there aren’t clear answers to any of these questions.”

Craig Albright, vice president of legislative strategy, BSA | The Software Alliance

“From a privacy and civil liberties perspective, we find it unpalatable that the Intelligence Community would ask Congress to reauthorize a controversial surveillance program without first following through on the promise—reiterated by Coats as recently as earlier this year—to provide some much needed information about how the program impacts Americans. To do so supposedly in the name of privacy concerns is even worse.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation

“This is not about creating or exploiting backdoors, as some privacy advocates continue to say, despite constant reassurance from us. We need even stronger cooperation from the big social media and messaging platforms in the fight against terrorism and the extremism which spawns it. Encryption … is a vital piece of security for every user of the internet. Protecting all of us as we go about our lives from shopping, to banking, to chatting online. However, encrypted messaging applications are also used by criminals and terrorists.”

 Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull

“The trouble is, the administration keeps doing other things that jeopardize support for the Privacy Shield.  A clause in the very first immigration executive order overriding agency regulations that apply federal Privacy Act to persons outside the United States raised alarm bells that the President was undoing steps PPD-28 and other steps to extend privacy protections to people in Europe… Congressional action signed by President Trump repealing the Federal Communication Commission privacy regulations that flowed from the FCC’s application of its Title II regulations added to concerns, again fueled by overstated reactions.”

Cameron F. Kerry, visiting fellow, The Brookings Institution

The problem is that the [Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board] is crippled, with only one serving member… If President Trump is serious about seeking renewal of the extraordinary powers granted under the surveillance law, he should probably nominate a bipartisan slate of privacy experts of the oversight board.”

James X. Dempsey, executive director, Berkeley Center for Law and Technology

“A change in the law making it easier for the federal government to seize data stored in a foreign nation stretches the reach of a warrant beyond the territory of the United States in a way that is revolutionary… The hearing, and any new legislation that flows from it, must lead to the right to privacy being strengthened. If it doesn’t, it won’t only adversely influence how data is stored worldwide but could strike a blow against freedom on the internet, which would be hard to recover from.

Peter Roff, conservative columnist, Cagle Cartoons Syndicate

“In fact, production orders that call for the retrieval of data held in foreign servers rarely produce a direct conflict of laws.  Consider the dispute that gave rise to the Second Circuit’s decision regarding Microsoft’s Irish-held data. Although Ireland filed a brief asserting a vague interest in the case, in fact there was no conflict between Irish laws and the U.S. production order—Microsoft could have complied with the order without violating any Irish laws.

Andrew Keane Woods, professor of law, University of Kentucky